Bird Island south east peninsulaSail Away...
There's nothing quite like the sensation of wind in your hair, the sound of water slapping and splashing the bow, sun on your face, speed that you feel in the pressure against the rudders and in the sudden acceleration when the wind sends an extra push. 

There's nothing quite like stepping onto an island hardly anyone even knows exists, watching giant white pelicans take off slowly and gracefully over the shallow peninsula like a scene straight from a National Geographic documentary.   

Shaun and Tina on the windward sideNothing quite like knowing just how to trim the sails for maximum speed or use the wind's power to travel into the direction it's blowing.  Or like feeling the hum of the wires and rudders as you slice through the waves, sometimes slowly, sinking into their troughs, then rising high over the next crest.

Nothing quite like the luxury of rolling over and into a refreshing dip in the lake whenever you want to (as long as you trust the crew to come back for you).

Nothing like watching the sun set red fire to the sky, while the water beneath your toes turns to an orange as brilliant as molten lava. 

The stars next appear, or the three-quarters moon over the mountains, sending shimmering lights splashing all the way to the horizon, ten thousand candles floating atop the waves.  Try in vain to blow them all out -- your wish comes true all the same.

Helen kicks back on the leeward sideNothing like secretly Tina & Jon discuss sailing plans for their honeymoonwishing for another storm to blow the lake into a seething cauldron (or at least a very slow boil) of white caps, with no choice but to sail through them to a safe harbor, with enough adrenaline and adventure and beauty to last long as it takes to do it all over again.

saildecshaunx.jpg (21994 bytes)If you thought sailing was only meant for idyllic summer days...think again!  As winter delayed its coming, a cool day (30+ degrees) sent Shaun and Mark out on the lake in mid December.

The west wind brought them to Bird Island in under half an hour - record time. The wind died on the trip back and they had to work their way the last few hundred feet to the harbor by moving the paddles back and forth.

A few days later, temperatures rose into the 50's and an incoming front brought steady southeast winds. Shaun and Deanna sailed well past sunset, again reaching the island and topping out at a speedy 15 m.p.h. on the ride back. Thank heavens for GPS which not only acts as a speedometer but makes the harbor easy to find in the dark.

saildecmark.jpg (20124 bytes)Bundled up in fleece layers, Mark steers the boat around the island as night falls.

January 23
January showed up with even more great weather - if you're a summer-lover, that is.  When Steffen (founder of High Adventure Coalition - Europe) was in town for a week, Shaun promised to find a worthwhile adventure or two.  They played hockey in the morning and sailed with Zee (from South Africa - this was the international flotilla day) into the night.

janbird3.jpg (22555 bytes)The wind ceased as soon as they left the boat ramp and after putting along at a break-neck 1 mile per hour, they finally pulled out the paddle and headed toward Bird Island at a steady 3 mph.

Once on the island, they found comfortable spots to lie down and wondered out loud why they hadn't brought camping gear.  The sky was black, the stars were bright, and the island was calm and peaceful without the usual summer denizens squaking about overhead.

The ride back brought enough wind to push us up as fast as 5 miles per hour. Not much thrill, but beautiful in comparison and much better than paddling the two miles home.

janbirdcstwy.jpg (11840 bytes)Zee and Steffen relax on the soft gravel bar.

The question about camping turned out to be more than just rhetorical and an overnight trip is scheduled for the following weekend with more old and new high adventure coalition members.

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First Mate Steffen leans into the sunset

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Navigator Zee keeps us on track with the GPS while showing off as many complimentary colors as possible.

More sailing...Ann & Shaun sail to Bird Island for a photo shoot by Chris Barksdale.

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